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The Education of Thought

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Published in the book: Studies in the Thought World
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Thought is the human motor. With the great majority, however, it exerts its force without definite aim or purpose. It is a building-power, but yet works to no plan or specification. Its operations may be compared to the work of a crazy carpenter, who, though always busy, nails up material at random. In the light of such experiences its real power and utility are unappreciated. Its forces, which, if properly directed, might be gigantic in accomplishment, are either misapplied or lapse into decadence.

The fact that, with law for a pilot, thought may take on supreme, yes, even divine potency, has not been grasped. The law-applying test is the great distinguishing feature of the present era. We are learning to look behind phenomena, and to trace the lines of sequence which have produced them. Just in proportion as we divine the laws of anything, we tame and harness it for service.

Electricity is as old as the material cosmos, but until now it has been useless from lack of lawful interpretation. The specific application of law was not attempted, because its universal reign has only recently come into recognition. It is indeed strange that the orderly energy of electricity should have so long remained undiscovered; but it is more unaccountable that the laws, powers, and uses of the ever-present thinking-faculty should have continued an unsolved problem. Thought is the grand fact and force in human existence, but yet no lesser force has been used so unintelligently. Most commonly it is like a boat floating upon shifting currents with oars and rudder unmanned. Its course is shaped and altered by every wind and tide, and its lading taken on in the same haphazard fashion.

There is nothing so much needed as thought-education in order that this ever-available force may perform the work for which it was designed in the human economy. A comprehension of its underlying laws is necessary to direct and utilize its great energy.

There is no lack of thought activity. This is preeminently a thinking age, keen, busy, and intense. Research goes outward in every possible direction. The illimitable cosmos is not too great, nor molecules or bacteria too small, to call forth its devoted pursuit. It exercises itself upon history, and delves among past events and civilizations, even though it finds only a grand panorama of human friction and limitation. Thought also centers itself upon the physical sciences; upon government, theology, ethics, and every other known subject except its own wonderful potency and utility. It is a busy mill; and into its ever-open hopper is poured a conglomerate grist, good, bad, and indifferent. It knows about everything but itself. Its food, though unlimited in quantity, is mainly of a negative, limited, and sensuous quality.

The grand office of thought is the upbuilding of a character or soul-structure which shall be symmetrical and substantial. It builds from within, and can find unlimited material in wholesome and perfect ideals. Educated thought educes or draws from the human divine center the harmonious and the beautiful, and erects them into form and expression. Uneducated thought goes into the external for its material, and opens itself to that which is inharmonious and distorted. It incorporates all the limitations and false perceptions which conventionalism and traditionalism have made so plentiful, and its structure embodies their disorder and negation.

The thought of the One Mind is the eternal energy of the universe; and in proportion as human (or finited) thinking copies and traces its orderly laws, it takes on infinite vigor and usefulness. Humanity, through self-limitation, has closed itself against its divine heritage. Its lawful patrimony is good without any deviation. The thinking-power is the link whereby man may bind himself to what is eternal and immutable. As he grasps and holds the ideal he takes on its quality. The divine within him becomes himself. The "Word" which dwells in his inmost also becomes articulate, and is made flesh, or comes into externals.

Thought is not only the greatest but the only real power in the universe. Even on the mundane plane it shapes all external systems, governments, and institutions. Its subtle, silent waves dissolve dynasties, overturn empires, humanize animality, and inspire progress. Even though so generally misdirected, through its evolutionary undercurrents it is hastening forward the supremacy of truth in human consciousness.

Formerly only an occasional poet or prophet had visions of the higher reality, but now the uplifting power of positive thinking is becoming a grand and broadening inspiration. Previous to the recognition of universal law, thought energy was seemingly mystical and capricious, and its accomplishments were rated "supernatural." Now its mathematical and scientific precision is made clear. From dim and rare glances of its power and beauty, attainable only at intervals by gifted souls, it is becoming "matter of fact"—a practical everyday possession.

The world subjectively dwells among pictures of discord, disease, and self-limitation; but progressive volition will finally bring about a complete and universal rectification.

If the thought-craft has been floating at the mercy of every wind and tide, we must grasp the helm, man the oars, and begin to direct its course. The false thinking of the present—to some extent involuntary—comes from bad thinking-habits of the past. Like a meadow brook, it wears channels. Now is the time to begin to direct its course for the future. Lazy, careless, and morbid thought currents must give place to positive ideals, and these should be affirmed into actualization.

The only true ownership that we can gain of desirable "things" is through the medium of thought. In no other way can we make them truly ours. Title-deeds of material things are loose and weak compared with possession by ideals firmly held. We not only gain them, but actually make them part of ourselves.

If we have been missing the mark by careless and lawless thinking, let us begin the projection of right thought with earnestness and precision. Its power is gained from its intensity and continuity. With the vigorous use of these two pinions, its flight may be lofty, and unweighted by limitations. It will thus be able to gather and bring treasures into the storehouse of consciousness, and its rich fruitage will include all that is positive and divine. It is the force which verifies Paul's declaration: "All things (wholesome and perfect entities) are yours."

Men strive and toil for material wealth, but thought is a mint where coinage more valuable than gold is waiting for room to bestow itself. It will honor every draft that is made upon its treasury.

To link thought to the ideal transmutes it into the real and actual. Do we desire mental and physical harmony, holiness (wholeness), and everything else that is truly desirable?" Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find." The "finding" is the bringing into expression of the pure and the beautiful through the all-powerful instrumentality of intelligent concentration.

Henry Wood

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